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The Art of The Open: Getting Your Emails Read

I get so tired of seeing those click-baiting headlines shouting/predicting/suggesting “the death of email marketing”. Email is not dead.

It’s not dying, it’s not going away, it’s not being replaced by social marketing or holograms or telepathic beams. Email conversion rates are 40 times those of Facebook and Twitter, says McKinsey & Company, and the Direct Marketing Association reports that email marketing ROI is $43 for every dollar spent, making it the most effective marketing channel out there.

Let’s read that last sentence again; I’ll wait.

You know what I think, the people who declare that email is over are really just suffering from poor results and not enough ROI. That’s not email’s fault; that’s their fault for not doing what they can to promote performance.

I don’t want you to become one of those people, because I like you and I’d really hate for that to change. So, I’m going to share some tips for getting your emails opened, read and clicked.

Subject Lines

Before people click through your email, they have to actually open it. Here are some tips you can use on your subject lines to help improve opens.

  • Use the right wordsEconsultancy has a killer report featuring the kinds of words that get results (and a bunch that don’t). Sometimes it’s even looking at one word versus another, like “sale” versus “save” or using dollar amounts versus percentages.
  • Ask a question. Numerous studies have shown that subject lines that ask questions engage a person’s innate curiosity; so opening the email is almost irresistible.
  • Use their name. This one can be super effective, but you really have to make sure you’re using a nice, clean database. Otherwise you get fun subject lines like, “Hey Firstname, how would you like to save 50% on an inflatable giraffe?”

Email Body

Try some of these tricks for getting people interested in what your email’s about.

  • Pretend you’re on Twitter. I’ve actually seen an increase in these types of emails promoting anything from someone’s new blog post, to Expedia’s latest hotel sales. Send a super-short email just teasing what you’re promoting and provide a nice big button for people to click through to find out the rest.
  • Offer an incentive.This works best on “welcome” type emails for new people entering your database. Don’t waste their time with a boring welcome message—offer them a little incentive as a thanks – which will, of course, encourage them to use the incentive to buy or continue buying from you. Make it something of actual value, though. Don’t offer some free resource they could get from your website.
  • Personalize your calls to action. You might be amazed by the difference in results between a button that says “Start Your Free Trial” and one that says “Start My Free Trial.” Just a touch of personalization in your CTAs make viewers feel more connected and special.

And really, the best tip I can give you is to test, test, test. Sure, there are plenty of studies and best practices about what works, but what works for some businesses may not work for others. So take inspiration from those, but run tests to find the combination that resonates with your unique audience.

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